Central Asia Cools Down and a European Energy Update

  • Last week’s border clashes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have ended and a fragile ceasefire is in place. Both nations have agreed to withdraw considerable amounts of military hardware and troops from the disputed area of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border. The fighting that took place along the border between 14-16 September included tanks, aircraft, and artillery. Over 100 deaths were reported during the strife.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for there to be “no further escalation” between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. He also reached out to the leaders of both countries and urged them to take steps to resolve the border dispute through peaceful means. Although being members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have a history of tensions accented by the occasional border clash.

“We continue our efforts to resolve the Kyrgyz-Tajik border issues in a purely peaceful way,”    Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov told his citizens in an address Monday. Tajik government officials spoke along similar lines, calling negotiations the key to resolving Tajik-Kyrgyz issues.

  • European government continue to make plans and preparations for an anticipated energy crunch this coming winter. Germany is moving promptly to secure LNG contracts with a number of Persian Gulf states as the flow of gas from Russia is running at severely reduced levels. Meanwhile, Spain and France are revising their respective contingency plans in the hope of avoiding power cuts.

French energy corporation EDF’s efforts to repair and reactivate a number of nuclear reactors is meeting delays. Corrosion has had more of an affect on the reactors and plants than originally thought. If the reactors cannot be brought back online by winter, EDF has warned it might be forced to take ‘exceptional measures’ once the weather turns.

Spain is looking at the possibility of requiring energy-intensive companies to cease operations during consumption peaks. Meanwhile, Finland’s national grid operator Fingrid is warning that Finns should be prepared for power outages come winter.

Central Asia Border Clashes Raise Fears Of A Wider Conflict In The Region

A flareup of fighting between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan along their common border appears to have been brought to an end, but not after at least thirty people were killed according to Kyrgyz government officials. Military units from both nations started exchanging fire on Thursday and according to independent sources, civilians on both sides of the border joined in the firefights. By today, Tajik and Kyrgyz officials met to defuse the situation. It seems a temporary ceasefire has been established and the leaders of the two nations have discussed matters over the phone. President Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyzstan and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmon have agreed to meet later in May.

Territorial claims and access to water were the causes of Thursday’s military engagements. Border disagreements between the two nations are not new, having stemmed from demarcations made during the 1980s at a time when these nations were part of the Soviet Union. The area of the border where Thursday’s clashes occurred is a frequent flashpoint.

This recent round of fighting in Central Asia underscores the volatility which the region has experienced in the last year. The Azeri-Armenian war and continued tension between Georgia and Russia generally grab the media headlines, yet there are a number of other regional issues and rivalries simmering just beneath the surface. The situation between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan over the shared Fergana Valley is one of them. The chances of a larger water war in the area cannot be discounted as the importance of water access for these landlocked nation-states becomes a matter of national survival.